Celery doesn’t get credit where credit is due. Usually relegated to veggie platters with ranch dip or stuck in a snack bag with smears of peanut butter, we don’t really think much of celery as a standalone food. I mean, can you think of one (just one) dish where celery is the star of the show? I rest my case.
Given the culinary backseat assigned to celery, it may surprise you to learn that the crunchy, bright green stalks are packed full of more than just water and fiber. As it turns out, celery boasts some bountiful health benefits.
Celery is loaded with vitamins A, B, C and K. It’s packed with calcium, magnesium, and potassium. And, perhaps best of all, it’s full of phytonutrients. These are plant-specific chemicals that help keep the sun and insects at bay so flowers and greenery can thrive.
Scientists think these same chemicals may help humans thrive, too. Research has shown phytonutrients to have both anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. They are also believed to be boosters of our immune systems and repairmen of toxin-related DNA damage. The US Department of Agriculture reports that eating phytonutrients regularly can have measurable efficacy in fighting off cancer and heart disease.
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I say bravo, celery. The long-term benefits of having this healthy (albeit bland) snack are motivation for me to add some crunchy, green stalks into my diet.
What’s even more inspiring are the short-term perks. Take a look at this list of 14 happy health effects of our friend celery. You may decide to incorporate it into your weekly (if not daily – see number 12) diet.
1. Cholesterol and Blood Pressure – Phthalide, a chemical found in celery, was the focus of a recent study at the University of Chicago. The results showed that eating celery (and the accompanying phthalides) could reduce cholesterol levels by as much as 7% and blood pressure by as much as 18%.
2. Anti-inflammatory – We talked about the long-term preventative powers of celery above. But, if you’re someone who suffers from chronic inflammation, eating celery could help prevent flare-ups.
3. Hydration – Celery is about 95% water. Make it a snack throughout the day, and you’ll increase hydration along the way.
4. Weight Loss – With a low calories count (about 6 per serving!) and a moderate amount of fiber (1.6 grams in each cup), you can crunch on celery to curb hunger and junk food cravings.
5. Digestive Health – Have a recurrent upset stomach or problems with constipation? Celery could be a solution. Remember that fiber count we talked about? It helps keep your tummy settled and your bowels healthy.
6. Heartburn and Acid Reflux – Skip the antacids in the medicine cabinet and head for the refrigerator instead. Because of its low acidity, celery has been recommended as a remedy for both heartburn and acid reflux.
7. Gastric Problems – Thanks to antioxidants, celery can reduce the risk of diseases associated with the stomach lining, like gastritis and gastric ulcers.
8. Eye Health – Vitamin A is a key player in protecting our corneas and in treating dry eyes. Just one stalk of celery has 3% of our recommended daily Vitamin A intake. Not bad.
9. Alkaline Balance – We already talked about celery’s low acidity. This property makes it a great stabilizer of our body’s internal pH levels.
10. Mosquito Repellant – Who knew? Celery oil extract, when rubbed on the skin, works wonders to repel pesky mosquitos.
11. UTIs, Be Gone – In some parts of the world, celery is used to treat urinary tract infections (UTIs). Because this veggie has a diuretic effect, it can help you get rid of water without losing too much potassium.
12. Love Potion – Some folks believe celery is an aphrodisiac, since it has high levels of male pheromones, like androstanol and androstenone. This camp thinks that eating celery can increase how attractive men who consume it are perceived by others. Bon appetit!
13. Male Fertility – Stay with me here. When combined with vitamin E, celery has actually been found to boost men’s sperm counts when eaten regularly. Remember we talked about aldosterone? Well, by increasing levels of this pheromone, celery helps create a healthy environment for sperm.
14. Relaxation – Okay, so I admit that this may seem like a stretch, but hear me out. Historically, celery was used to treat nervous disorders. Going all the way back to the father of medicine, Hippocrates, celery was “prescribed” to help calm patients or to get them to fall asleep. Scientists these days credit the calming properties of celery to the magnesium content.
Impressive, right? Maybe we should change that old saying to “A stalk (or three) a day keeps the doctor away.”